UK's Favourite Parks 2022 saw 360-plus parks nominated for an award, with over 30,000 votes cast demonstrating the immense love we all have for our local parks and green spaces. But as well as places for play and fun - a visit to a green space can also be beneficial for our wellbeing.
Our local parks have been there for us like never before over recent years. Throughout the Covid pandemic they were the places we could get outdoors, move around, meet safely with loved ones and connect with nature. They supported the nation's mental health and continue to do so. Put simply, visiting a park helps you feel happier and healthier.
In recognition of the important role of all our nation's parks and green spaces, we are celebrating the ways they support our mental health.
Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner at Living Well UK, Sarah Cannon, has identified five key reasons why parks are so beneficial to our mental health:
An escape from the 'hustle and bustle'
"Time spent outside in nature offers us a reprieve from the hectic pace of our usual routines and home and work life environments, providing us with a sense of calm and a chance to relax in a more peaceful and natural space away from the hustle and bustle of modern life."
A sense of achievement
"Getting outside for a walk or taking part in a group project in nature can give us a sense of achievement. This can help to improve our confidence and self-esteem which in turn can have positive impacts on our mood going forwards."
"Connecting with nature can reduce feelings of loneliness and improve mental wellbeing. We may also feel more united with others if we get outside with a friend or go to a local park where there are other people around."
A place to be mindful
"The natural sights and sounds we are exposed to are a great way to practice mindfulness and bring our focus back to the here and now."
Outdoor activities can boost mood
"Being at one with nature and incorporating movement such as walking, exercise, gardening, and other outdoor activities can help to improve our mood and reduce physical feelings often associated with stress and anxiety."
Green spaces are good and they do good. By demonstrating our love for our local parks, we can champion what they mean to communities and in turn help make the case for their long-term protection. Without legal protection our local parks can so easily be lost. And once lost, a green space is lost forever.
Fields in Trust is the only national charity working across the UK to legally protect parks and green spaces for good. We already protect nearly 3,000 parks across the UK, but up to 94% of green spaces could remain endangered. With your help we can change that, for good.